I’m old enough to remember the 1955 polio outbreak, the long lines of kids waiting for their vaccine sugar cube.  I can only imagine my parent’s fear. But they had already lived thru scarlet fever, mumps, diptheria, whooping cough.  They had already lost friends and family and felt gratitude for the science behind vaccine.  We’ve all been enjoying a human experience relatively devoid of survival-based fear, which has been part of the human story since we peeked our heads out of the cave.  Perhaps we’ve become pleasantly soft.  What an under-appreciated gift this chapter of softness was.  Now we’re smack dab in the reality of what it has meant to be human for eons.  Everything repeats.  Nothing is certain.  Everything changes.

Take a look at this week’s sessions.  Being embodied is one way to support a challenged immune system.  And learn to be with change.  Links HERE

Wednesday Waves
Feb 10   9:00am & 6:30pm

Basic Essentials
Thursday Feb 11   10:00-11:30am

Deep Essentials
Friday Feb 12     10:00-11:30am

Dance Essentials
Saturday Feb 13   10:00-11:30am

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers FUNDRAISER
Valentine’s Day Feb 14 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home
Live in the garden

Essential Recharge
Saturday Feb 27   10:00am-noon

Physical Therapy
(916) 267-5478 for appointment

Reporting from the vaccine front line here, first injection doing magic more than a week now.  Local soreness has dissipated and there is this other-worldy fluctuating lassitude. Chalk it up to the relentless emotional and mental suffering we are all riding?  Maybe.  Almost a year, folks.   Really though…what is my body up to?  How is it building a viral defense wall?  Since most of us will eventually end up waging this internal battle and because I’m a certified science geek, I’m gonna break it down here.

The new buzz technology with this vaccine is messenger RNA.  MRNA is already found in human cells, genetic material our bodies use to produce protein.  Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use a synthetic mRNA.  True to it’s messenger calling, it instructs the body’s own cells to create a coronavirus protein called spike.  Our intelligent bodies recognize spike as an invader and mobilize antibody forces against it.  Here’s the magic: if these same antibodies encounter COVID-19 later, they recognize and remember.  And then they whip into action to destroy it before it can cause illness.

To make sure mRNA slides easily into cells, they’re greasy bubble coated with lipid nanoparticles. These weird bubbles alert the fast-acting immune cells which are on constant look out for foreign matter. Once the immune cells spot the greasy bubbles, they sound the alarm with cytokines.  The cytokine commanders recruit other immune cells directly to the injection site.  A swollen sore arm is sign #1 your body is doing exactly what you want it to do.

A healthy immune system is a quick but not very long-lived first responder. It sputters out a couple days post-injection.  But not before it passes the baton to the adaptive immune system.  This network creates antibodies for the long run.  These soldiers stay on the alert, ready to attack if Covid-19 enters the body again. This system needs a few days to study the spike and get ready. By the time the second injection happens, it’s totally amped up, itching for a fight, ready to react way faster.  Check out this incredible intelligence—some of the soldier cells are suspicious and hang out at the injection site, waiting for the invader’s return to the scene of the crime.

And when that second injection arrives, our brilliant immune system remembers and takes it even more seriously this time around.  Our body’s reaction to dose #2 varies greatly but can be flu-like—fever, aches, chills, exhaustion, the works.  Side effects are usually short-lived and pale in comparison to the real deal.  Remember COVID-19 can be utterly debilitating.  Just as alarming as the 2 million deaths is the sometimes months-long, sometimes unresolved ongoing constellation of hanger-on symptoms.

Fear of side effects is not a good reason to forgo the vaccine.  Injection side effects insure us our immune system is activating, though some will feel no side effects at all.  Rest assured…body still working!  We are each so unique in our response.  Nevertheless, first shot stimulates immunity, second one reminds the system the threat is big time.  Let’s the body know in no uncertain terms this peril will require the strongest immune soldiers for any upcoming battle.

Given this incredible internal deployment, it’s no wonder I’m a bit tired sometimes.  My body is hard at work ensuring my future safety.  Grateful it can just do it’s thing and continue to support me in doing mine.  Short video describes the heart-based sessions that span this week, culminating in Valentine’s Day Sweat Your Prayer’s fundraiser on Sunday.  Give your precious body what it needs and come practice with me if you’re able.

Fifty years ago I kept a 20 week standing date with a cadaver.  Without fail.  Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, eight to noon, scalpel in hand, trusty Gray’s Anatomy propped at my side. My original oft-referenced fifty year old text pictured above.  Me and three intrepid lab partners dived in, layer by amazing layer.  For sure squeamish-get-me-outta-here on Day One…but then curiosity took the reins.  One day all the organs were stealthily removed for the pathology students and on another day the head disappeared, gone in service to dental students.  This absence didn’t faze us; our focus was laser-directed on muscle, bone, tendon, joint, ligament, nerve.  Plenty remained. If you want to consider moving from squeamish to curious check out YouTube anatomist Gil Headley splaying open the heart basket below.  He’s quite the character.

And so began a life-long love affair with this particular aspect of anatomy, a surrender to a working bias for many years.  Thirty years to be exact.  A good chunk of time to steep, long enough to start making connections, drawing meaning from the physical. What does my body know about spirit?  What is the sensation of a feeling arising?  Where exactly do thoughts originate and translate to action?  Where lives the voice of my soul?  The last twenty years have been all about that.

From time to time I love to dive into the organ body those pathology students absconded with.  It fascinates me.  Last week was one of those times, an exploration from diaphragm to pelvic floor.  Heart and lungs will have their turn soon.  Here’s what I notice: when we bring our attention to organ body we invite the parasympathetic nervous system to thrive.  The sympathetic—in charge of adrenaline-based fight flight freeze—quiets.  Focus on the organ body naturally moves us into a field of rest and restore.

Wanna feel?  Take a full inhale and exhale in honor of each organ: left thumb resting under rib cage, hand covering stomach. Under stomach the worm of pancreas. Right hand, same place, other side, overlapping left—liver is way bigger.  Let hands stroke downward over 22 feet of small intestine taking space all the way to pubic bone.  Stroke outward and rest over ascending and descending colon.  Make two fists as you move them under last rib back body; two kidneys. Now one hand sacrum, other pubic bone.  Rectum rests curled in front of sacrum, bladder nests under pubic bone, womb space reclines in between—the sacred protected lineup.  Rest here.  Breathe.  Summon up gratitude.  Restore.

As fate would have it, in the midst of this series of classes, I listened to a Katherine May podcast on how “wintering” replenishes.  We are deep in wintering right now.  Maybe the deepest wintering many of us have ever experienced.  Darkness, rain, cold…it gets under my skin sometimes, feels limiting, depressing, leaves me longing for “summering”.  Yet now is when we might follow the lead of rest and restore body wisdom.  How do we take in nourishment, gather up what is needed to sustain life, digest?  And then what do we do with that?  Our miracle vessels know how to convert that nourishment.  How to assimilate, incorporate, utilize—create life force.  And then?  Hah.  The body innately knows what and how to eliminate. Release what it does not need.  24/7.  Over and over.

Katherine May went on to expound on the power of rest and retreat to remind us that our lives are deeply cyclical.  That everything repeats.  That nothing lasts.  Wintering asks us to wonder what change is coming…  because it always does.

Take a deep breath in.  Open the window between your rib cage and your pelvis.  Feel the deeply cyclical nature of your organ body as it gathers, creates and eliminates.  Take a rest.  February 5 is the exact middle of winter.  We will be Springing in six or seven weeks.  Here are a few ways to support your February wintering….
On the mat: 
Essentials Thursday/ Friday 10:00am moves into heart basket.  All month feeling the unique thoracic spine, how ribs connect it with breast bone. How collar bone delicately marries scapula.  The fluid scapula hovering on back body.  How  diaphragm and lungs and heart team up for aliveness.  Loving our journey.  Until February 5 you can pre-enroll in all February Thursdays or Fridays to save $, commit and have the ease of a single Zoom link.
Dance Essentials Saturday February 13 —combining mat and dance floor. For sure we’ll be dancing that heart basket somehow.
Essential Recharge Saturday February 27 will summarize, integrate, culminate this heart basket journey.

On the dance floor: 
Wednesday Waves 9:00am and 6:30pm…either or both—same link. Loving this one hour double dip whether I teach or take.
Sweat Your Prayers Zoom or live in the garden every Sunday 10:00am.  This month’s fundraiser is Valentine’s Day Sunday February 14.  All proceeds, Zoom and live in the garden, go right back to the farm land we’ve been moving on since June.   Deep gratitude to Ray and Judy Tretheway who have generously offered space where we have been able to safely move outdoors through three seasons. All proceeds will help replace trees being removed for levee restoration.  Wanna join us?  Eventbrite ticket purchase holds our capacity upper limit at a very safe thirty.

Bottom line?  Here’s what we’re up to wherever, whenever you land.  Dedicated time to take in some nourishment.  Feel how it supports and generates creative life force.  Lighten your load, release what’s superfluous.

Let’s keep wintering together.

Gil Headley and the heart basket…..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY_7-UgM3Mw

I’m totally indifferent to any debate about science validity.  For me, it’s a given.  Neil Tyson said, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.” Totally resonate.  Given the fact that science just is, what intrigues me is it’s intersection with the sacred.  The co-mingle of science and magic.   The marriage of science and art.

Perhaps this possibility, this mysterious sense of magic, paved the way for politically-motivated individuals to cast this recent science-doubt-spell.  In this time of critical national need, when the very best public health can offer is desperately required, so alarming to feel the practice of medicine compromised.  It was heartening this week to hear Dr. Fauci, longtime head of NIH, address the dangerous partisan games played at the upper levels of CDC.  Shocking.

Religion is a culture of faith.
Science is a culture of doubt.
Richard Feyman, physicist

Science is born of a fertile imagination, from the depths of mystery. Curiosity hypothesizes.  Comfort with the unknown is the first step to evidence-based research and treatment. I grew up steeped in this fusion of the known and the unknown, literally dancing my way through childhood in the home of a scientist father.  Who also loved to dance, by the way.  My fluid body in motion has always been my preferred artistic way of being in the mystery.  But science knocked on my little girl door via the written word and I fell headlong into the medicine world of Clara Barton, nurse.

The life sciences and healing took hold of my mystic moving body and disciplined me. Kept asking me to meld matter and spirit. Find ways to negotiate between reason and intuition.  Look for common ground between logic and wonder, determination and destiny.  I’m still at it.

Medicine is a fusion field.  Many patients expect or would like it to be pure science-based.  Some practitioners pretend that it is.  Case in point: this week I treated a patient in Chicago with recent onset heel pain.  Yes, I’m still working on Zoom, vaccination end of this week!  It was science that taught me the route of the sciatic nerve, how to stress it, how to hypothesize heel pain originating in spine.  But it was artistic intuition guiding me to create ways to release the hold this neural tension had on her body and spirit.  Science teaches me about the inner workings of body.  It is the ground my work rests upon.  But facts and data will never be enough to shape the warm fertile field in which healing happens.

Inviting you to be in that warm fertile field 10:00am this week: Thursday, Friday or Saturday. What’s the diff  ‘tween Thursday’s Basic and Friday’s Deep Essentials? We always roll and release, power tone and stretch.  They’re interchangeable.  Deep is 15 extra minutes, time for a bit more classic yoga asana.  Saturday’s Essential Recharge is two hours, once a month for students who want to deepen and new students who want introduction.  This week the science guides us through the organ body, the vital biological structures that keep us ticking. And the magic happens when we feel the energetic space between heart basket and pelvic bowl, stay present with our breath and welcome insights that percolate through our soul and enliven our spirit.

Closing with Albert Einstein, wizard of magical science, who said: Science without religion is lame.  Religion without science is blind.
Loving being in the mystery with you….bella

My children, constant source of inspiration and wonder to me.  I feel them so deeply, mid-life stream, transforming through adulthood’s unrelenting lessons. Juggling more than we prepared them for, showing a maturity of utter grace, ever-thoughtful skill and consideration.  This pandemic year has crystallized a slow change in our relationship.  The children they were always palpable beneath these astounding adults.  The parents we were a fading memory overlaid by the elders we have become.  Who worries more about whom is now a toss up.

My daughter’s work world has given her a much needed voice in this rapidly changing globe. And she is my guest author today, writing about a neighbor our family endured for twenty years.  Last week an avalanche of text messaging between the four of us unearthed all these buried stories…and then some.  I could have written my own version The White Supremacist Next Door, but why?  Sonya Dreizler tells this timely story so well:

“I grew up next door to a violent white supremacist, who regularly threatened my family. When I was a kid, he was just the scary, mean neighbor. And, as often happens with childhood experiences, they seem normal without the context of more years of life experiences.

I also didn’t have the language to call him a white supremacist, or even know what that was. We didn’t talk much about race in my house. We had friends of other races and ethnicities but – as was pretty common in the eighties and nineties- our house took a “colorblind” approach to (not) talking about race. And we definitely didn’t talk about whiteness, white supremacy, or broader issues of racial justice- though my parents are fluent in all of that now.

That is all to say I did not have the context to know then that the sum of his actions and talk would clearly point to him being a white supremacist. I don’t want to name him here so let’s just call him Mr. Davis for the purposes of this article.

*Mr. Davis used a CB radio, and his communications would sometimes  interrupt my boombox radio. His call name on that CB radio was a racist and offensive white supremacist slur, that I do not want to name in this article.
*He made sure we knew (or at least believed) that he kept guns by the front door.
*When my brother and I played in our front yard, Mr. Davis would spray us with a hose if we neared the invisible property line where our lawn met his.
*He’d hose our cats too. Our older, wiser cat knew this and stayed away.
*But when our kitten went missing, while my brother and I made “missing” posters, my dad braved knocking on Mr. Davis’s door and when he did, he found the neighbor had kidnapped our kitten, for “trespassing on his property.” He had her caged in a small hamster cage.
*Mr. Davis would flip us the bird every single time he drove by, which was a lot, since we lived next door.
*If my brother and I were playing with a ball in our back yard, and it went over the fence, we knew we’d never get to play with that ball again. Mr. Davis would slice the ball down the middle before throwing it back over. Sometimes, when he was being extra menacing, he would draw a bleeding cat’s face on the ball, then slice it, then throw it back to our yard. I still remember the drawings vividly, despite the 20+ years since I’ve seen one.
*He would video tape my brother and dad playing catch in the street.
*He called the police to report my brother skateboarding on our block.
*When we got a cordless phone he would eavesdrop on our conversations, and sometimes chime in with crude remarks. He stopped when my dad said he would report him to the FCC.

Why did he threaten our family? I think it was because he disagreed with my parents’ vocal anti-war views. But maybe being a Jewish family was also a contributing factor. I am left to wonder- if he could be that horrible to our family, his white next-door neighbors, how terrible were his interactions with people of color? I’ll never know the answer.

Because I was a kid without context, he was just the scary neighbor. I knew he found ways to make us scared, including inside of our own home. What I now know, and didn’t realize until just last week, was that he fit into a larger group of people that insisted on their supposed racial superiority, and that menacing behavior often comes with that territory.

Mr. Davis died 20+ years ago. I hadn’t given him much thought in recent years. But last week, in the aftermath of the mob storming the capitol, something I read jogged my brain and I could almost feel the memories and stories tumble out, ready for inspection under the context I now have. For the last 9 years I’ve been actively engaged in unlearning what I thought I knew about race in America, and relearning more accurate narratives, as well as learning to speak out on the topic of racial injustice. Now I have the context and the language to call my neighbor what he was- a violent, threatening, white supremacist.

With that context, now I’m left to wonder- how did that experience impact me, my childhood, my adulthood, and the work I do now?

*Despite the decades that have passed, I still won’t go near his lawn when I visit my parents’ house.
I don’t let my kids walk on other people’s lawns, anywhere.
*In my current home, even though we are friendly with the neighbors whose back yards connect to ours, I still get nervous when my own kids’ toys go over the fence.

Racism and sexism are about power and control. When I write and speak on those topics, I often draw on my own experiences with white men exerting their power. I never considered the awful interactions with Mr. Davis to be among those experiences, but now that I think about it, I imagine those formative years must have had a tremendous impact, one I can’t quite articulate yet.

I’m searching for the lesson here, but I haven’t found it yet. Usually writing is a clarifying exercise for me. When these memories came back to me, I felt so compelled to *write this down* so I could make sense of it. But I’m afraid there’s no sense to be had, no finding reason from the actions of someone so cruel.

Perhaps there are lessons for finance from the national political upheaval. Lessons about naming and examining whiteness and power issues. Lessons about whether we can “move on” from harassment, assault or discrimination in the workplace without the healing that comes with attempts at justice. In my own experiences, and collecting stories for Do Better, I saw a pattern that in instances of conflict in the finance workplace, there is a rush to smooth things over by silencing the victim (including with NDAs and arbitration agreements) and pacifying the aggressor. While moving on from the event may give the temporary appearance that things are back to normal, what it actually does is enable the aggressor to continue abusing other people, at the long term detriment to your workforce and business reputation.

In respect to what is happening nationally, with white supremacy invading our capitol- I hope our country can focus on justice and accountability for those people that stormed the capitol, and those who enabled and encouraged them to do so. Without accountability, the rest of us- the ones not committing violent seditious acts- live in fear of a fresh wave of violence.

May we seek safety, and justice in all of our systems – including our workplaces – and continue to listen to the voices of those people our systems have historically excluded. Not just “for the next generation.” Let’s do it now.”

Thank you, Sonya.
Grateful, humble mama

The ground of current events, the shifting backdrop of threats to our well-being, the hypnotic media messaging…it just keeps crashing on our shores.  I wake each day and wonder what it will be.  Spiking pandemic and vaccine news, wildfires waiting in the wings, protests and boarded buildings, chaotic politics and disputed elections.  And now?  In case that was not enough?  A riptide of violence, raging humans who are so dispirited and desperate.  People who are armed with weapons and values that I struggle to fathom.  I have no answers, only questions.

For one hour yesterday I forgot.  It was cold and foggy damp.  My feet were squishing in trampled grass, Sunday Sweat music was moving through my bones and waking my dulled spirit.  Lately I come to practice for two reasons: to forget and to remember.  When I take the bait, fall completely into breath, body in motion, I abandon that shocking list up there.  For a precious while I forget.  And then invariably I remember.  My essence, my fortitude, my capacity for joy, my connection with all my relations.  The walnut tree, the emerging sun, the other human right in front of me, the soggy earth.

This week I am teaching/holding space for us to forget and to remember on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Interested in the thread that will string all those teachings together?  A short video today that makes it come alive for you in the way that it is so alive in me.

So….this is for you if, just like me, you feel like you need to forget in order to remember.  Take the bait, allow yourself to fall completely in love with breath, body in motion…feel essence come alive in you.

So much deep caring….❤️Bella

After The Holidays you might expect an essay about how unique, how challenging, how memorable the past two weeks were.  And they were.  But this morning I am curious about distraction, which the dictionary defines as 1) a thing that prevents someone to giving full attention to something else 2) extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.  Maybe this topic is connected to The Holidays.

I’m life long intimate with distraction.  I guess, for many, distraction is a default state.  With varying degrees of success—on the cushion, on the mat, on the dance floor—we come to practice giving our full attention.  And then, if we’re paying attention, we notice how the s—t hits the fan when we venture to be present out there in 24/7 land.

Zoom has shed some interesting light on this.  When distraction arises as I practice solo in my quiet room, there’s just no dodging it.  I’m the only one responsible.  I can’t blame the temperature or this person hovering too close to me or the music being too loud/soft or or or…  Left to my own devices, without others present, distraction  surfaces with astounding vigor in my lonely room.  Zoom clarifies how much I lean into physical human connection, particularly on the dance floor, to auto-anchor me to the present moment.

No, I’m not discovering this basic sensibility for the first time.  But I am feeling the spotlight of Zoom on my wandering heart and mind.  This is not rocket science. It’s simple, just not easy.  I like to invite attention to rest down in my body: sensation and breath and motion.  Distraction is when the energy rises up into heart or head.

This upward rise is the directional default that creates an ever-repeating loop if we’re willing to track and take it on:

*down into the body
*up into feeling/thinking
*golden moment: noticing we went up (which can take seconds, minutes, hours)
*back down into the body

The practice loop.  A hundred times in a single practice.

Why bother?  Real life example: I had precious visitation time with family this weekend, rare these days.  I tracked myself spacing out and up a few times and circled myself right back down.  Didn’t want to waste one moment in non-presence.  The afternoon, despite outdoor rain and cold, took on such an easy graceful lyrical tone.  This is what’s possible when I choose to anchor back down to body again and again. The mystery opens, I enter a timeless zone peppered with richness that has no compare.  And I love that place.  It can happen in practice and it can happen in real time.

Maybe this intrigues you.  Practicing in the spirit of inquiry we can find what pulls us away.  No blame, no shame, just curiosity about what distracts.  And what opens when we devote an hour repetitively returning to body language.  See below for plenty of mat sessions, which I actually find less distraction-prone than dance sessions.  That’s a whole other newsletter.

Super-excited about the newness of January Wednesday Waves, inspired by the nine consecutive dancing mornings bringing 2020 to a close.   We heard you and we love this format: one hour…in, out.  A single wave really lends itself to tracking the loop.  9:00am and 6:30pm…same class, same teacher, same music. If you morning dance, dance again in the evening, no additional cost, same Zoom link.

                                          “Attention is all we really have to give.”
Gabrielle Roth

These are ripe times for extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.  Giving our full attention is love manifest.  Let’s practice together.

Love, Bella

Spontaneous: performed or occurring as a result of a sudden inner impulse
or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus

Have you felt a bit spur of the moment lately?  Carpe diem inclined?  Something about these times sparks this muscle in me.  It was mid-December when I looked at the long stretch of no-dance-scheduled time approaching.   So I asked Majica if she wanted to hold each other in morning practice for a few days running.  Her spontaneous yes organically precipitated an invitation to whom ever wanted to join us for One Day at a Time: nine days, nine o’clock. Last one today…info to join.

Day after day we felt the momentum and energy build as people from here there and everywhere joined us for a one hour wave.  And here’s what arose out of this spontaneous combustion:

  • For years I cherished my go-to 5Rhythms practice with Kathy Altman in Sausalito Thursday mornings.  She is a great teacher AND there is something about a morning practice that is a way better fit for me.  I longed to teach in the morning but even though I watched year after year as exhausted working folk dragged in at 6:30pm, the evening practice was well established in Sac.
  • Zoom and 5Rhythms: my resistance has been huge.  But this nine days in a row shook it free because we landed in a format that really worked.  Focus primarily on the internal practice.  One hour…in…  out…slide off the dance floor and into your day.  Brilliant.
  • From the get-go in this new on-line world I have kept my focus on providing for our local community.  And the way peeps have been showing up—for themselves and for each other—has been amazing.  Heart boosting.  Incredible.  Over the nine days our local community had a chance to be with, feel into, have a sense of the global community.  Come on.  How right does this feel?

And so it all added up to the next spontaneous decision made in five minutes post-dance yesterday.  Wednesday Waves begins again January 6.  One hour.  9:00am and/or 6:30pm.  Your choice.  Morning or night: same music, same theme, same teacher—Majica and I rotate each week.  No additional cost if 9:00 dancers want to do it again at 6:30.  Simply spontaneous. Only in January.  Because who can plan further than that?

And here’s the last offering in 2020:  Essential Fundraiser 10:00am Thursday December 31.  All proceeds to feed the hungry in our community.  If you are unable to make this time slot, just send your Sacramento Food Bank donation receipt to bella@bodyjoy.net and I’ll send you the class recording.  Be ready with your roller and double tennis balls. Gentle release, subtle toning, luxurious stretching for the whole body with a special focus on the back of the pelvic bowl: sacrum and sit bones.  Curious?  See video below.

If not now, when?  Let’s do it…

Last Sweat Your Prayers 2020 this morning, in Zoom-land and live in the garden we covered ourselves in white, called in the promise of light.  A hope, a dream, a spark at the end of this long and winding tunnel. Even though it seems we timelessly fall deeper, darker, more dire into this tunnel, our communal attention was on the sections lined with silver. How the light shines on those never-ending lessons, the ones gleaned from the experience of living through 2020.

Our silver linings.  If we have our health, that’s huge.  So many do not.  All that our hearts have borne…there’s a silver lining lesson somewhere there.  All the ways we have learned to let go, be tentative, be spontaneous, stay flexible…giant silver lining.  All the times we have chosen to seize the day, the hour, the moment.  Knowing how precious it has become.  Silver.  All the growth around being still, slowing down, becoming quiet, being alone. Solstice silver linings…

These are the rituals remaining to support those silver linings, bring this year to a close, initiate 2021.  Enrollment info at bodyjoy.net.  I hope I can be with you somewhere somehow sometime:

Talk about spontaneous…Majica and I are holding each other in practice nine days in a row at 9:00am.  We spontaneously decided to open this to whoever wants to show up with us for One Day at a Time: 9 days, 9 a.m.  December 21 through December 29   FREE   We feel this potent pause, this turning point, this stillness. Long to deepen and open each day in a one hour wave meditation. Maybe you feel this call as well and will join us for one or some or all. So simple: same Zoom link every day, no cost.

Essential Recharge December 26 10:00-noon.  On Christmas I’m making my traditional steamed persimmon pudding and mask-delivering slices topped with Meyer lemon sauce around town to my beloveds. The day after Christmas I’m holding space for us to come to the mat to uber-leisurely release, tone and stretch.  Undoubtedly the pelvic bowl will be featured somehow.
Essential Fundraiser  December 31  10:00-11:30.  On New Year’s Eve morning let’s practice with all proceeds going directly to Sacramento Food Bank.  If the time doesn’t work for you, email me your receipt donation and I’ll send you the class recording.

Letting Go and Calling In…. A New Year’s Day Ritual   January 1 2021 1:00-4:00 p.m. Live in the garden, lots of space and fresh air—participation limited.  2020:  a year to commemorate as it passes.  We absorbed, hesitated, integrated, resisted, incorporated, compromised, endured. Alone together we moved through the most trying of times.  On January 1, we’ll do what we know best.  Use the power of communal intention to release unneeded 2020 baggage.  And in the space this creates, with a lightened load, we’ll call in what we long to create, what we yearn for, what we desire in 2021.

Wednesday Waves in January starting January 6  6:30-7:30. One hour.  One wave.  Moving in uncharted territory, practice for life in a world rapidly changing. Revelatory, revolutionary, a matter of survival, we’ll do this alone together.

So seize the day, any special hour, the surprisingly juicy moment and we’ll enter this great turning together.  Breathe into the promise of light at tunnel’s end.  It’s there.  Welcome any silver lining you can feel into.  Cultivate it.  Share it.  Find peace in it.  And if you want to show up and practice….I’m here.


If it wasn’t for death and disparity and distress. If 10,000 people world-wide every day were not dying of this virus. If it wasn’t that 20,000,000 human beings are currently infected with Covid. Grief and tragedy and heartbreak. If only somehow in a wand-waving sorcery moment I could delete every ounce of personal, family and communal suffering this scourge has created. That would be amazing. But you know what? Utter truth: in that magic wand moment I would not change one thing about this year for myself.

For that to make sense, gotta travel back to 2010, a time when I was acknowledging the mysterious acceleration of my good and privileged life. Sixty years seemed such a natural time to slow down. But my call to creative work combined with adventure’s lure and my overflowing joie de’vivre kept steadily conspiring to crank up the volume on my bustling life. So my spiritually logical self opted for a week-long silent vipasana retreat for that 60th birthday. As if yanking myself out of the loop for seven days would open the elusive door to deceleration. Nice try.

Ten years have passed since that retreat. The slowing down never really happened. At all. During the ensuing ten years I bounced back from two fierce health crises more zestful than ever. I’m not complaining. My soul, infused with enthusiasm and aspiration, kept guiding me down an ever-productive pathway. I have accomplished heaps. I’m content with that. Really would not change one thing about the last seventy years.

Nevertheless, an unrelenting force has been working me over for the last eight months. A down-shift is dawning organically. Steady pandemic wear and tear keeps systematically chipping away habits that used to conspire to quicken me. Right here, right now, in a year’s end perspective moment, I’m officially designating this The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. Oh if it were not for death and disparity and distress…I would not change one thing about this year for myself. This is just part of what has come to pass:

The Divorce of Earning and Work
If you’re Enneagram familiar and you know about threes, you appreciate my deeply entrenched connection between work-worth, financial-worth and self-worth, a long time personality definer. To wrestle out of this life long grip…very tricky for a three, super hard-wired. Little wonder it took seven decades, formidable privilege and a prolonged pandemic. But there you have it. The release is uber-sweet. I’m resting in a fortunate zone of teaching and treating with little care or attention to time and energy and value. I simply get to love my work and do it. Maybe you’ve noticed that payment for classes offers choice: full value and half value. My intent is that no one be turned away due to financial challenge. Email bella@bodyjoy.net if pay to participate is not working. Right now proceeds from one class a month circle back into our community where needed. New Year’s Eve Essentials goes to Sacramento Food Bank. So open and curious to follow this divorce thread.

The Demise of the Energizer Bunny
If you’ve read this far and/or you’ve known me awhile…need I say more? I get so much done in one day. Not only can I manifest ad nauseum, I can multi-task while I’m at it. Such a combo gift/curse. Seventy years of it. Is there a connection between time awareness and productive busy-ness? Because my usual time passage markers—an hour, a week, a month—feel stripped away. I watch myself jot down to do’s or not. Do them or not. Sitting on my garden bench feels more important. No, I have not self-relegated to my rocker. I thrive when physically active, teaching, writing, connecting, cooking, outdoors-ing, treating…and lately, restaurant dreaming. There is just much more stillness. It feels juicy.

Unconditional Love Arising
Super defenseless moment. But I’m not unique in this particular human vulnerability. We all have our personal ego cast of characters. I’ve got a bully whose sole function is to remind me I’m incapable of receiving love. Oh yeah. Also unable to offer love. Basically a worthless unlovable being. I’ve got a handle on ego development and function and given my growing up circumstances, this thug is logical. Mostly he’s content to sit back and shut up…more with every ensuing year. But in the last eight months, something has shifted. My heart feels so awakened by love flowing freely in. Alive with love spilling out. So much spontaneity. So much unself-consciousness. So much powerful ease. The word is unconditional. It may be the greatest gift of The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. I’ll take it.

There’s more. It just hasn’t taken articulate form yet. And it doesn’t have to in order to be real. Fundamental shifts are happening in each of us. Transformative depths that can’t happen in a weekend workshop or week-long retreat. Because real change takes time. And time alone is not enough. Real change happens when we pay attention. Real change happens when we remain open to whatever is arising. Real change happens when we cultivate a willingness to do something different. I’m going to just keep holding space for real change to transpire. Because we’re all enrolled in The Great Pandemic Retreat of 2020. Practice provides perspective. Without the panorama that dedicated reflection provides, we might miss this incredible opportunity.

I hope you can join me for one of these offerings in reflection. Come journey up the body this week, bringing our attention to the floor of the pelvis. Such amazing territory—see video below. Or Sunday, wear white to dance in the Solstice—on line or in the garden. Take a look at all the opportunities that remain in December, dedicated space to pay attention, open to whatever and do something different. Real change is there for the taking.

Love, Bella

December views…


Basic Essentials 

Thursday December 17     10:00-11:15am

Deep Essentials

Friday December 18      10:00-11:30am

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers

Dec 20 wear white 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home / Live in the garden

Essential Recharge

Saturday December 26/January 30      10:00am-noon


Sac Food Bank Fundraiser: New Year Essentials

Thursday December 31   10:00-11:30am
link coming

Dance Essentials

Saturday January 16   10:00-11:30am

Physical Therapy

(916) 267-5478 for appointment

Been learning from avowed hermits lately.  Not recluses, who isolate out of basic human disdain.  But hermits.  Who live a life oriented to solitude, filling extra time with contemplative practice rather than social interaction.  They come in all shapes and guises.  Some hermits follow religious guidelines, some answer to no spiritual authority.  There are hermits who live in caves or neighbor in plain sight in suburbs and cities.  Cultivating solitude unites them.

This pandemic has created levels and forms of solitude brand new for each of us.  For some, way more than others.  How is this aloneness for you?  Love it?  Hate it?  Love/hate it?  If you’re paying attention, you might be feeling some preference by now. I’m sure some have tapped their latent love of solitude, a sentiment that was maybe hiding in the depths of previous warp speed life obligations.  More alone time sets the stage for daily rituals and contemplative tendencies to flourish.

If you’re a “hate it ” you might have mastered the art of automatically, even unconsciously, seeking distraction or connection.  Anything to avoid the scourge of being alone. And you know what?  If that’s working for you, awesome.  Really.  But maybe you’re intrigued with what this new amount of solitude has to offer, wonder if there’s something there for you. Would consider a bit of a shift.

Raven’s Bread, a loose organization tended by two elderly hermits, expounds ways to transform anxiety-ridden isolation into nurturing solitude.  They believe that “anyone could benefit from eremitic fundamentals:  being rooted in place, practicing austerity and committing to a daily schedule prioritizing prayer or meditation.”  I love this simple solace in solitude list.

Rooted in place.  Ms. Fredette of Raven’s Bread defines ‘anchorite’ as “a religious solitary who takes a vow to remain in one place, though even non-anchorite hermits tend to be homebodies.”  What does this notion stir in you?  I spent the first fifty years of life as a perennial vagabond.  I lived in twenty places before I landed in my current home at thirty-one.  Travelled extensively until about five years ago.  Then, except for local camping trips, I just kinda stopped.  Lost the urge for several reasons.  Right now I spend more time at home than I ever believed possible.  Been in this same home 40 years.  Pretty rooted in place. What’s your story?

Practicing austerity.  Another great quote: “eschews rabid consumerism”.  This is so up for me.  Human supremacy: the unconscious worldview, operating as background assumption, telling us we humans are entitled to treat nonhumans and their habitats as we please.  Stunned every moment I look through this lens as I throw out a plastic bag, run the heater, flick on a switch, drive for groceries. For now, my right action is to keep this issue front and center. I know, I know…with everything else falling apart around us, who wants to include something else? But this is the exact reason everything is falling apart all around us.  How do you stem the tide of consumerism in your life?

Committing to daily prayer or meditation. I’m about this, have been for a long time.  Even holding space for others who want to cultivate daily practice.  Prayer and meditation can take so many forms.  The obvious: cushion, prayer rug, mat, dance floor.  What about the not so obvious, the personal, the unique?  What daily rituals pull you into contemplative presence?  Most days I’m down for some of the obvious.  But it’s a prayer when I walk outside in nature.  Writing is one form my meditation takes.  Music often delivers me to spirit, touching a place inside nothing else does.  My pandemic surprise meditation? Cooking from scratch.  A lot.  Never have I taken time to find this degree of culinary expression.  It brings me a great quiet joy.  With the bonus of extending that joy to others.

We’re living through a time of huge global pain, chaos and transformation. Are these eremitic ways selfish?  Do they have value beyond personal peace of mind?  Couldn’t I be out attending marches, ministering to the sick, volunteering at a food bank?  This internal listening is so different than a call to activism.  Cliches become clichés for the truth they hold.  Peace begins as an inside job.  When we slow down, our desire to seek satisfaction from what’s outside slows down, too.  Our deeper being feels safe enough to emerge.
“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.”  Seraphim of Sarov

When we become still, we become witness.  I’ve been a very public person for a long time.  And I still am, albeit in this altered fashion.  And I’m listening to you.  The topic of isolation is up.  Finding viable ways to maintain social connection is critical.  And then there’s learning to be still, finding how to be comfortable just sitting there, cultivating solace in solitude.   Isolation.  Solitude.  Different, connected somehow.  When we practice on line, the isolation-solitude conundrum is right there.  Second time for Dance Essentials—roll, dance, stretch—this Saturday Dec 12 at 10:00.  In any class you can feel how we’re learning to negotiate this conundrum alone together.  Amazing.

Love, Bella


What we’re up to in Essentials….

December views…


Basic Essentials 

Thursday December 3, 10, 17     10:00-11:15am

Deep Essentials

Friday December 4, 11, 18      10:00-11:30am

Dance Essentials

Saturday December 12   10:00-11:30am

Sunday Sweat Your Prayers

Dec 13 wear black, Dec 20 wear white 10:00-11:30am
Zoom in your home / Live in the garden

Essential Recharge

Saturday December 26,      10:00am-noon

Fundraiser New Year’s Eve Essentials

Thursday December 31   10:00-11:30am
link coming

Physical Therapy

(916) 267-5478 for appointment